SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea (search) vowed Monday to continue relief and reconstruction projects in Iraq despite a weekend shooting that killed two South Korean engineers and wounded two others in northern Iraq.
The killings Sunday on a road near Tikrit (search), north of Baghdad, came as South Korea was planning to send up to 3,000 troops to Iraq, besides hundreds of South Korean military medics and engineers already operating there.
The government held a special emergency meeting to discuss its reaction to the deaths.
"Despite the sacrifices of the tragic incident, the government will not give into violence and human killings and we will continue to make efforts to provide humanitarian aid and join relief and reconstruction projects in Iraq," Foreign Minister Yoon Young-kwan said in a brief statement.
The dispatch of troops to Iraq is unpopular with the public in South Korea and the attacks were seen as putting extra pressure on the government to alter its plans.
Speaking at an afternoon news conference after a meeting of South Korea's National Security Council, Yoon said the attacks were not entering into the equation.
"This incident will not affect the question of sending troops to Iraq," Yoon said. "Our decision to send troops to Iraq remains unchanged."
President Roh Moo-hyun (search) had earlier condemned the gun attack as "intolerable" terror: "This is an act of terror against civilians and is an intolerable, inhumane act," Roh was quoted as saying by his office during a meeting with aides.
South Korea is a key Asian ally of the United States, which seeks troops from other countries to help restore order in Iraq.
South Korea's National Security Council convened Monday to try to determine whether the fatal shooting was a premeditated attack on a South Korean target or was a random terrorist assault.
Yoon said the intention of the attack was still unclear.
South Korea announced last month that it would send a maximum of 3,000 troops to Iraq. It has yet to decide when new troops will be deployed.
South Korean officials identified the two men killed as Kim Man-soo, 46, and Kwak Kyong-hae, 61. One of the two injured was in critical condition, they said.
The four workers belonged to Seoul-based Omu Electric Co., which has sent 68 engineers to Iraq since October to build electric power transmission towers under a $20 million contract with Washington Group International, Inc.
Based in Boise, Idaho, Washington Group International has been contracted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build and repair electrical and other infrastructure in Iraq.
A group of 10 South Korean lawmakers visited Iraq for nine days last month to assess the security in Iraq ahead of a deployment of South Korean troops. Any dispatch is subject to parliamentary approval.
Kang Chang-hee, an opposition lawmaker who led the delegation, said Monday that the latest attack won't affect an overall assessment report the delegation is preparing for the National Assembly, the national news agency Yonhap said.